A Rwandan who claims to have been illegally arrested and tortured in Uganda has filed a lawsuit at the East African Court of justice demanding $1 million in damages.
The suit, however, will be more keenly watched for the diplomatic undertones given the bad blood between the two neighboring countries that has hampered movement of people and goods.
Mr Venant Hakorimana filed the case in Arusha on Monday through his lawyer, Mr Richard Mugisha under reference Number 11 of 2019 of EACJ’s first instance division.
Mr Hakorimana, 35, said on Monday that he was arrested a day after arriving in Kampala in July last year and detained for ten months.
During his stay in a Ugandan prison, he was allegedly tortured by security operatives.
“I was working in Ethiopia as a teacher for Applied Biology.
I was detained in Uganda in July last year where I had gone to visit and check on my property in Mbarara District,” Mr Hakorimana said.
He claimed security operatives beat him every day “sometimes using electricity to torture me.”
After nine months of incarceration, in March this year, he was finally produced in a Ugandan court, where he was found guilty for illegal entry and sentenced to 12 months in prison or pay a fine of Shs1 million (about $266).
After he paid the fine, he was deported.
The 35-year-old will be represented for free of charge by Rwandan seasoned lawyer, Richard Mugisha, the founder and partner of Trust Law Chambers.
Mr Hakorimana becomes the third Rwandan to sue Uganda over wrongful incarceration.
Mr Ezekiel Muhawenimana and his wife, Ms Esperance Dusabimana were charged in a Ugandan court and sentenced to a year in prison for illegal entry via the Cyanika border last August.
They served for nine months and are seeking compensation of $100,000 (Shs3.7 billion) from the Uganda government. They are also represented by Mr Mugisha.
In April, a Ugandan advocate, Mr Steven Kalali, filed at the East African Court of Justice, a lawsuit accusing Rwanda of violating free trade and movement of people by closing the Gatuna border in February.
Rwanda last week temporarily opened Gatuna (for two weeks) to test the readiness of the one-stop-border post which has been under construction since last year.
However, goods from Uganda continue to face restriction at the border and many popular Ugandan products are missing in Rwanda’s markets and shops.
Rwanda accuses Uganda of supporting rebels while Uganda says the Rwandans who were arrested were on espionage missions sponsored by Rwanda.
Since February, Uganda has not allowed Rwandan travellers to cross over after Kigali issued a travel advisory that its citizens risked arrest and torture in Kampala.
The East Africa Community, the common market to which the two countries belong, has been studiously quiet on the altercations even as evidence comes through that it is hurting other member states.
By Daily Monitor